The making of ‘The Lakshmi Rebecca Show’
Some of the Most Magical things in Life Happen when You Least Expect Them to
There, I said it. Some of the most magical things in life happen when you least expect them and possibly in a way you never imagined. Then all the great planning you thought you would have done to be ready for this moment is just a vague idea up in the clouds. Now, you’ve got to get real organic because the only thing that will work is inspiration. Inspiration is what you’ll need to think on your feet and inspiration is the only thread holding your thoughts and actions together. And the amazing thing is finding that inspiration, not knowing where it came from. And then you realize when it all happens in front of you, the thing that you’ve been waiting for, that somehow the ideas were in your subconscious a long time back and that somehow a strange number of good people got together in a vague way to make it all happen when you were probably somewhat ready for it! Life is a mysterious surprise.
Okay, enough of my philosophical ranting.
So, for about a year now the team and I have been talking about the future of Chai with Lakshmi. It was growing beautifully, but there has always been this need in me to make it better, bigger, more beautiful.
Firstly, I was very conscious of the fact that I and we (the team, I mean) were done with the ‘Chai’ connect. Not because I’d been asked so many times, “Oh, ‘Chai with Lakshmi’ is like ‘Koffee with Karan’?” No, not because of that – although that was a pretty annoying question. But because the bigger connect with chai – which was going to be beyond the show and in the form of merchandise – never happened and it was time to let go. And I had to let go of the name without letting go of the credibility I had built, without letting go of the viewers, and by using this as an opportunity to think much bigger and be even truer to myself about what we really felt deeply and passionately about.
So, there I was on a November morning, aware of what I was willing to let go, yet not knowing the definition of the next step. And then one day, Joel Koechlin (Kalki Koechlin’s father) called to say that Kalki was in town for the weekend and available to film with. We had 24 hours to figure out what we were filming and why.
Joel had met with me a couple of months earlier in appreciation of my work and had wanted me to connect with Kalki at some point.
A month after I met Joel, I’d visited Deepa Narasimhan at her home. Deepa had been in touch with me for over a year, as had Joel. When I met Deepa: I realized what an inspiring person she was. I knew I would meet her again, but didn’t know how or why. Deepa suffers of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a degenerative neuro-muscular disorder which has left her with muscle movement in her fingers and face alone at age 30. But she is a working professional with oodles of confidence and an attitude towards life you will love!
And now, the context: a week before Joel called I’d read about ‘Margarita with a Straw’, the film in which Kalki plays the role of a girl with Cerebral Palsy. (It is scheduled for release in India next month.)
Bingo: that’s the random beautiful connect. How about if I put Kalki and Deepa in the same room? How about the actor talks about spending her days in a wheel chair for her role of ‘Laila’ who has cerebral palsy, being treated like a person with a disability, and what she learnt from that; and Deepa talks about her life, her identity, struggles and choices as a young woman with disability raised by a conservative south Indian family? How about if we pushed the boundaries, if I pushed the boundaries; how about if I asked what dating is like for a person with a disability, what if I talk about the sexuality of a person with a disability? What if!?
And so, it happened. We filmed at the home of Joel Koechlin, sitting on bean bags and what is about to release soon is a beautiful and honest conversation. Here’s revealing the ‘behind the scenes’.
Thank you Joel Koechlin for helping make this happen!